PSL 2019: Fakhar replaces AB de Villiers as Lahore skipper for remainder of tournament

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Fakhar Zaman to lead Lahore. Image credit - LQ/Twitter.

Lahore Qalandars have appointed Fakhar Zaman as the skipper of the squad for the remainder of the 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) edition.

The Pakistan opening batsman replaces South Africa ace AB de Villiers in the role. According to report by Geo TV, the decision to appoint Fakhar in place of de Villiers has been taken due to the unavailability of the South African for the closing stages of the tournament.

Fakhar took charge of Lahore Qalandars on Wednesday when they took on Quetta Gladiators at Dubai with the opening batsman also captaining the side in the subsequent clash against Karachi Kings on Thursday.

AB de Villiers’ stay with the Qalandars will soon be coming to an end with the South African batsman set to bid farewell following the completion of the side’s upcoming three clashes. The 35-year-old will not be available for the PSL playoffs should Lahore progress.

AB de Villiers.

AB de Villiers.

“AB was available for only nine games. He has played six and will play three more including the two matches in Lahore,” a Qalandars official was quoted as saying by Geo TV.

“In light of this, the Qalandars management decided that a player who is available should lead the team in remaining games,” the official added.

Fakhar is not the first captaincy change for Lahore in the 2019 edition. Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez was appointed to the role ahead of the start of the tournament but an injury forced Lahore to replace him with de Villiers.

Lahore are currently in fourth spot in the PSL table after playing seven games which have resulted in three wins and four defeats. They next play Peshawar Zalmi at Abu Dhabi on Tuesday before moving to Lahore for the Pakistan leg of the tournament.

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PSL 2019: Quetta Gladiators look to end slump against out-of-sorts Multan Sultans

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Nothing seems to go right for the Multan Sultans this season.

In their Pakistan Super League 2019 opener, Multan were 164/5 with two overs left to go in a chase of 184, but scored just 12 runs and lost four wickets in those remaining 12 balls. There was the game against Lahore, in which, having scored 200/6, they had 81 runs to defend from the last six overs, only to lose to an AB de Villiers special.

Then came their two games against Peshawar Zalmi. On Sunday, they failed to defend 31 off the last three overs, with Kieron Pollard walloping 25 off 10 on a pitch where only one other batsman had managed a strike rate of 150, and then it was deja vu in Thursday’s rematch, when Pollard came in with 88 required off 51. He was dropped on 14, but even at that point, Multan had 52 to defend off four overs. No prizes for guessing what happened next.

That’s four of their five losses which they could have won with better batting, or, better death bowling. Instead, they’re rooted to the bottom of the points table.

The playoffs are not out of the question – after all, they’re only two points behind fourth-placed Lahore Qalandars. But as long as that inability to win close games remains an Achilles heel, finishing in the top four will be an uphill climb.

Quetta Gladiators have an easy formula to avoid that: don’t get caught in close games. Yes, they have clinched a win with a last-ball six this season, but they needed just seven runs from the final over in that game against Lahore before Sarfraz Ahmed took it to the last ball.

There have been a couple of below-par performances – Karachi and the second game against Lahore were fairly one-sided defeats – but there’s a reason the Gladiators are among three teams tied on eight points at the top of the table.

They have plenty of in-form players – four batsmen in the top-20 run-scorers this season, a feat matched only by, ironically, Multan, and four bowlers among the top-20 wicket-takers. That’s a sure-fire recipe for success. Another is to have a good mix of foreign and Pakistani players in form: Quetta have Shane Watson, Rilee Roussow, Umar Akmal, and Sarfraz Ahmed in the batting department. Add that with the bowling form of Fawad Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Ghulam Mudassar – though he can be a tad expensive – and Mohammed Nawaz, and two young Pakistan stars firing, opener Ahsan Ali and fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain, and Quetta have found the recipe for success.

They are, however, on a two-game losing streak having won their first four games. But here’s a good sign: the only Multan loss that wasn’t a close game? It came against Quetta.

LIKELY TEAMS

Multan Sultans: Umar Siddiq (wk), James Vince, Johnson Charles, Shoaib Malik (c), Daniel Christian, Shahid Afridi, Tom Moores, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Nauman Ali

Quetta Gladiators:  Shane Watson, Ahsan Ali, Rilee Roussow, Umar Akmal, Danish Aziz, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir, Fawad Ahmed, Mohammad Hasnain, Harry Gurney

Match starts 20:00 UAE time

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PSL 2019: Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim lead Karachi to nervy win over Qalandars

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Iftikhar Ahmed. Image: PSL/Twitter

On a sluggish pitch in Dubai, Karachi Kings pulled off a methodical, if sometimes nervy, victory over Lahore Qalandars that keeps the Pakistan Super League 2019 playoffs race alive.

Iftikhar Ahmed and captain Imad Wasim guided Karachi to a five-wicket win chasing 134 in a match that was in the balance until the 18th over during the chase, when they combined to hit hit three boundaries as part of a 17-run over off Aizaz Cheema, who had been impressive until losing his bearings under pressure.

Wasim hit a four off the first ball, a waist-high full toss that was rightfully called a no-ball, and then another boundary off the free hit , before Ahmed got another off the second-last ball of the over to effectively end the chase.

That over took the target from 25 off 18 to an easy eight off 12 and Karachi coasted home.

Up until that point, it had been a fiercely-contested game. Lahore’s total of 133-5 was competitive thanks to the pitch – innings of 18 off 21 from captain Fakhar Zaman, 33 off 32 from AB de Villiers, and 22 off 18 from Corey Anderson showed how difficult it was to score quickly. But with Karachi keeping wickets in hand until the end, it never seemed enough.

Ahmed and Wasim had the two highest strike rates of any batsman who faced at least 10 balls in the match, and that was enough to win the game. The former’s 33 off 25 included two fours and two sixes, but Wasim’s 19 off 13 was arguably more impressive – he was the only batsman to have a strike rate above 140.

Though his batting innings was crucial, Ahmed starred with the ball as well, finishing with remarkable figures of 2/4 from two overs of his off-spin to keep Lahore’s innings under check. Both his wickets were top-order batsmen, Zaman and Haris Sohail.

It was that sort of day for the spinners, who picked up seven of the 10 wickets to fall in the match. Yasir Shah and Sandeep Lamichhane were impressive for Lahore and threatened to derail the chase with their early wickets, sharing three between them, but it was Ahmed and Wasim – who also picked up a combined three wickets – who came up trumps.

The result leaves both sides on six points, with Lahore retaining that crucial fourth-place spot thanks to a superior net run rate.

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